Rebecca Roach


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am interested in supervising projects on any aspect of 20th and 21st century literature related to my specific research interests.

Projects I would love to supervise:
How to Do Things with books in Contemporary Britain (or Iceland, or India, or Pitcairn!); publisher’s reject piles; Amazon’s algorithms; Book Tok; computer poetry; literature and the British Council/AHRC/UNESCO; Conservative government policy effects on the arts; Brum literary culture; tech memoirs; modernism’s contemporary afterlives; nonreading; mass writing; the art of editing; methods of World Literature; advice literature; big data approaches to literary culture; Women’s big books; audio books; literary imprints; reader data; born digital literary archives; live literature


Research activity per year

Personal profile


My teaching and research at the University of Birmingham focuses on contemporary literature. Prior to joining Birmingham I was a postdoctoral research associate at King’s College London, working on the European Research Council-funded project, “Ego-Media: The Impact of New Media on Forms and Practices of Self-Presentation” (2014-2019). Before this I completed a doctorate at the University of Oxford, a Masters at the University of Edinburgh and my undergraduate at the University of Oxford. Despite a very English accent, I was born in the USA and schooled there, Germany and in the British state school system. 

Research interests

My research straddles twentieth and twenty-first century Anglophone literatures. I am particularly interested in the relation of literature and literary studies to wider culture. Research interests include digital cultures, life writing, book and media history (including reading communities), transnational modernism and its legacies, the institutionalisation of literary studies, literary and interdisciplinary methodologies, cultural studies.

My first book, Literature and the Rise of the Interview examines the rise of the interview in literary culture and was published by OUP in 2018.

My second research project examines the intersection between literature and computing since WW2 and is organised into two books. The first "Programming Literature", traces the ways in which writers have used and thought with computing historically. The second "Machine Talk" is an intellectual history of how conversation became a key metaphor and model for understanding world literature and computing (a back history of ChatGPT if I am being glib).

This cultural and technological background has led to my role as a PI on the Stuart Hall Archive Project (2023-26) where I will be leading the "Dialogues" strand - designing digital infrastructures to make Stuart Hall's archival papers accessible which respond to his intellectual legacies.

I also write about contemporary literary cultures: I am working on a book entitled The Social Life of Literature and the co-written digital publication, Ego Media, was published with Stanford UP Digital in 2023.

Internally, I am a member of the Humanities & Social Sciences Ethical Review Board, with a particular interest in digital research ethics. Externally, I am on the editorial board of the European Journal of Life Writing and also edit the Modern Section of the Year's Work in English Studies.

External positions

King’s College London

31 Aug 201831 Aug 2021


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